Does every child deserve an equal opportunity?
The majority, if not all Canadians would answer YES to this question, however the reality is almost 1 million children live in poverty in Canada and do not receive opportunities equal to the majority of their peers.
The principle of equal opportunity or non-discrimination emphasizes that all people, including children, have access to quality education, health care, recreation, sport and resource distribution (e.g. food, shelter, clothing), and other areas irrespective of a person’s age, race, sex, religion, ethnic origin, or any other individual or group characteristic. If we believe the principle is the correct one to live by in Canada we ought to be making greater strides to eliminate child poverty.
The Country Profile Report, produced by UNICEF Canada’s Office of Research reports 14% of the 6.9 million youth (under the age of 18 years) or 966,000 children live in poverty. The statistic highlight the need for our government bodies and charities to work more closely together to serve our most vulnerable citizens.
So, what can those of us working in the nonprofit sector do?
- Encourage government at every level to set execute budgets that will put children first. These fiscal plans should employ long-term solutions to our social and economic challenges associated with child and family poverty. Charities concerned about political activity rules should identify creative ways to engage stakeholders, MLAs, MPs and the broader community to work with the sector to deliver more holistic and integrated solutions.
- Children and youth-serving nonprofit agencies can reset their own financial and service plans based on the principles of equal opportunity and putting children first. Many organizations might react to this idea in defence of their mission and traditional strategies, however I’m suggesting a transformation of operational, programmatic and financial strategies to draw out further service innovation, redefine policy, and place greater focus on poverty reduction and long-term social impact.
- Nonprofits should be expanding their collaborative efforts with other nonprofits and the private sector. By identifying new ways to combine mind-share and resources with this one, shared goal we as Canadians could achieve greater results.
- The broader public have become too complacent about child poverty in Canada. If the majority of us believe that every child deserves an equal opportunity we need to rethink how we have been and will engage the public in the conversation and the solutions.
There is much more work to be done, thoughtful decisions to take and a need for greater public engagement to eradicate child poverty. Let’s applaud and support the individuals and organizations working hard each day to improve the lives of our children while encouraging others to join the fight for our children and their futures.
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